So you’re busy, you’ve got about an hour before you have to deal with some stuff in the real world. That world into which I rarely venture. I understand that some people, for bizarre reasons, don’t have the time to sit down and play six straight hours of Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 and so while I do not understand I suppose I should take pity on them and offer them some solace. Thus here comes the second article in our series of Some Ideas for Your Little Minutes. These articles will be of games (or perhaps betas of games) that we can’t rightfully give full reviews, because we don’t classify them as full games. But importantly these games will not be something you need to sit down and focus on for hours on end!
This time we have two games for your consideration: Slender by Parsec Productions and Vicinity: Warp Reality by students in their final year of their Diploma in Game and Entertainment Technology at Temasek Polytechnic.
Slender, by Parsec Productions is a psychological horror game based on the myth of the Slenderman. The game see’s you placed in a dark and dense forest in the middle of the night and you have to traverse the small area which has been cordoned off by fences (how your character got in is, naturally, never discovered) searching a number of different buildings and structures for 8 different note pages. All of this while, while trying to find these pages hidden in the map, you must avoid the Slenderman.
The game is really rather clever in several ways. First off is the portrayal of the Slenderman himself. He can only catch you if you look at him for too long, so if you can’t see him he can’t get you. As well as this he only appears able to move in teleports, but only when the player is not looking at him much like the creature in SCP: Containment Breach or the Weeping Angels in a way, so there will be no Slenderman coming round the corner after you and making you jump with fright. As well as this, he won’t just teleport right in front of you, he will only ever follow you and as the game goes on this becomes increasingly unnerving. Even better is that every time you pick up a note he will start moving a little faster and a little bit closer to you so I assume that by the time you have discovered 7 of the 8 pages and are desperately seeking the last, he will be almost constantly breathing down the back of your neck. Also, I believe the closer he is to you the less time you can look at him before you can turn away and escape.
It’s a genius mechanic because it plays right on that human mentality of wanting to know where the danger is, but if one turns around for even a second the danger might be right behind you and have you in it’s clutches in an instant. You always have that desire to turn around, to make sure you are safe and to make sure it isn’t following you. But he always is, always, and if you slip up for even an instant then suddenly you are in his deathly clutches.
The game is also rather clever in it’s choice of location. A forest at midnight might be a little cliché, but because Slendy is a tall man in a suit (with a white shirt) one tends to be able to see his white shirt and white face easiest and what you can also see, almost constantly is tiny thin gaps of light showing between the trees. Thus whenever you look around a little to carelessly you might see a distant gap and mistake it for Slendy, and this happens an awful lot of the time.
The final thing the game does so well is it’s atmosphere. Games like Amnesia are all about the subtle, the deep notes of the piano, the footsteps of something on the floors above, the creak of a door and then the sudden reveal of the monster. Slender is more about bludgeoning you into terror. After you pick up the 1st note a constant booming noise starts to reverberate through the forest. After you pick up the 3rd the booming is accompanied by an eerie and creepy long groaning notes. I suppose it’s also reasonable to assume that on the 5th and 7th note another terrifying note will be added to the air. This constant and never-changing sound preys on your fears that he is closing in, slowly making you more and more paranoid and making you more and more tense. It’s less an atmosphere designed to keep you on the knife edge of terror like Amnesia but is rather about shoving you head first over the other side.
All in all it’s an extremely well done game, even on the lowest graphics setting it looks great and it’s honestly one of the tensest and scariest things I’ve ever played. You can head along here to download it for free (and rather quickly too) and jump right in. It’s a very quick game as well, it took me around 12 minutes to find five of the pages, so if you manage, somehow, to avoid capture you might well be able to have it done and dusted in 20 minutes. But they will be the most fear filled 20 minutes of you life!
Don’t believe me? Well check out me playing it:
The other game I would suggest for playing when you haven’t got much time is the short puzzle game Vicinity: Warp Reality which is also completely free and available for download here. The game follows the very standard Portal, Portal 2, QUBE routine of a person in a science facility of some sort working your way through a number of different puzzles with a specific physics changing device.
The game, like Slender, looks really rather good even on the lowest setting and I imagine when dialled up to the max probably looks even better. The game will take the quickest and smartest amongst us, or the infallible, possibly around 20 minutes to complete, but it took me closer to half and hour to get through the seven stages in order to reach the end.
The early puzzles are a little bit slow and uninspired. The focus early game is on your gloves, one of which can pull objects (namely giant glowing balls) towards you from a distance and the other can repel nearby objects with a powerful punch of energy. And with these two abilities you have to get around the early levels, opening doors to proceed. As I have said, it starts off slow and a little bit boring but it quickly hots up when you get the game’s signature ability.
In Vicinity you will get a “cube” of some sorts which allows you record your actions and movements in a set direction. For example, say you record yourself jumping forwards onto a box you may then move to some completely other location, press teleport and your character will teleport in the same direction and with the same movement (i.e. upwards the same height you jumped onto the box). The direction part is also key, so if you teleport five meters in a westward direction, your teleport will only take you five meters west from wherever you teleport from.
It’s a rather clever little mechanic and it’s really well executed. The early challenges, full of boredom and slowness quickly speed up and becoming more difficult and a brain teasing at times. There’s never anything too strenuous, especially for those of you who are veterans of the testing in other science bending games and it is usually good fun.
Honestly, while the game was good and I would definitely recommend playing it if you have twenty or thirty minutes to spare I feel that it wasn’t as well done as it could have been. The proper teleportation device was only provided by around half-way through the game and as such there wasn’t really enough time to fully explore what one could do with it, which I feel was a mistake on the part of the developers.
If you feel you would rather see a bit more of the game before you try it out yourself then you can always check out these videos of me playing through the game in a rather spectacularly useless fashion:
Honestly if it were a choice between these two games I would say that Slender is probably the better one. If you don’t like horror then sure you won’t like Slender but as far as gameplay goes Slender is easily more entertaining. Vicinity could be a little boring at times and was never particularly exciting whereas Slender pumps you so full of adrenaline (and with great ease as well) that you probably could go and fight a bear afterwards!